Home Sexual Assault Cases Hockey Canada reopening investigation into 2018 sexual assault allegations

Hockey Canada reopening investigation into 2018 sexual assault allegations

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Hockey Canada is reopening its investigation into alleged sexual assault by members of the 2018 national junior team, the governing body said Thursday in an open letter to Canadians that included an apology for the way it has handled the allegations.

“We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 national junior team, or to end the culture of toxic behavior within our game,” the letter said. “For that we unreservedly apologize.”

The allegations were made public in a lawsuit that the national governing body settled in May, in which a young woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted by eight players in a London, Ont., hotel room following a Hockey Canada Foundation event in June 2018. The lawsuit was filed in April in Ontario Superior Court.

The renewed investigation is being led by an independent third party and will require all players to participate. Those who don’t will be “banned from all Hockey Canada activities and programs effective immediately,” Hockey Canada said in the letter.

Once the investigation is complete it will be referred to an independent panel of current and former judges who will determine the appropriate consequences, which may include a lifetime ban from Hockey Canada activity, on and off the ice.

“We acknowledge the courage of the young woman involved and respect her decision to participate with the investigation in the manner she chooses,” Hockey Canada said in the letter, which also included an apology to the woman.

Hockey Canada called the alleged incident in London “completely unacceptable.”

The organization pointed out that it conducted “an independent investigation of the matter that spanned more than two years.”

“Reopening the investigation is a step towards addressing the disappointment so many feel about the outcome of the process we followed,” the letter said.

Hockey Canada has faced harsh criticism since the allegations, and how they were dealt with, have come to light.

Government officials held parliamentary hearings to discuss Hockey Canada’s involvement in the case and sponsors announced they are withholding their support. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also blasted the national governing body, saying the way the allegations were handled was “unacceptable.”

“We have heard from Canadians, players, their families, fans, sponsors and those impacted by what occurred in 2018,” the letter said. “We know you are angry and disappointed in Hockey Canada – rightfully so.”

Hockey Canada will also require all high-performance players, coaches, team staff and volunteers to participate in mandatory sexual violence and consent training and plans a third-party review to “fully examine our organization and make recommendations to ensure our governance is geared to the requirements of a national organization of our scope and influence.”

An “independent and confidential complaint mechanism” will also be created, according to the letter.

“Hockey Canada recognizes that toxic behavior in our sport is a systemic issue that must end,” the letter said. “We need to provide victims and survivors with the tools and support to come forward.”

All complaints at the national programming level, including those historical in nature, will be referred to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner. Others will be overseen by an “independent mechanism.”

“Changes to policies and procedures can occur with the stroke of a pen,” the letter said. “Those changes are meaningless, however, without an equal commitment to addressing the toxic behavior that exists in many corners of the game. We know this change will not occur overnight, but we are committed to learning, and working with our partners to do better.”

(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)





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